Datev does not see the business of tax consultants as particularly badly affected by the Corona crisis, but it does see that of their clients. That said CEO Robert Mayr on the occasion of the half-yearly balance. As an IT service provider for tax consultancy professions, the cooperative has a good insight into the economic situation of German SMEs.
Between June 19 and June 23, 2020, Nuremberg obtained information from 416 law firms. In view of the Corona crisis, this group paints an ambivalent picture of the future of its clientele. The large stimulus package that the federal government passed on July 1 does not change this. 38 percent of law firms believe that further bankruptcies from their client base are likely in the next six months. However, just as many are optimistic that their clientele will be spared bankruptcies.
For 34 percent of the tax consultants surveyed, the federal government’s economic stimulus measures are too late. At 27 percent, a little less believe that the support arrives in time to get the economy going. The majority (39 percent) have no opinion on the timing of the stimulus measures.
The study participants naturally see the prospects of companies that receive state support better than the chances of those companies that cannot count on any help. 22 percent of clients without state support are therefore at risk of bankruptcy. The same question was asked at the beginning of March, at that time the respondents even saw 40 percent of this group existentially threatened by the pandemic. The proportion of companies at risk despite government aid is an average of four percent.
Datev boss Mayr reported on the balance sheet PC that the tax consulting professions had already experienced a significant digitalization boost before the Corona crisis. While the technical equipment was usually already good, the industry also experienced a strong boost in digital processes and digital strategy. The most important drives are therefore securing the future (71 percent approval) and saving time / optimization (60 percent).
The problem is that many medium-sized clients are still not willing or able to follow this path – at least 65 percent of those surveyed complain. According to Datev, customer data input is decisive for the degree of digitization that a law firm can achieve. It depends on whether processes can be digitized and organizational adjustments can be made. After all, there is a noticeable upward trend in data input via direct interfaces, and the tax firms have now received less than half of the incoming documents on paper.
Datev itself did well in the first half of the year despite the crisis. Income rose by 4.3 percent to 569.3 million euros (first half of 2019: 546 million euros). However, Mayr did not dare to make a forecast for the second half of the year: “The current forecasts paint a picture with great uncertainties, which will also affect our business.” In March and April, Datev benefited from the change of tax consultants to their home office and was able to set up more than 10,000 remote workstations there – per week.
The LEON portal for digital learning media was also heavily frequented. Cloud solutions (e.g. companies online) achieved growth of 21 percent compared to the same period in the previous year. The cooperative IT service provider was also able to further expand its customer base – tax consultants, auditors, lawyers and medium-sized companies: The number of customers rose by a good 57,000 within one year from 325,000 to 382,000.